Fall 2008 RMIG Newsletter

January 30, 2009

Table of Contents
From the Chair: Salutations and Updates
How Much do we reveal?
Mid-Winter meeting
Students in China

From the Chair: Salutations and Updates

By Jim Y. Trammell

High Point University

The RMIG theme this year was “Looking Back/Looking Forward,” a theme that resonates well with all that RMIG has planned for this year.

We’re “Looking Back” on our progress as an interest group with an eye toward whether or not we are ready to pursue AEJMC divisional status. We’ve made great strides as an interest group, including:

* Having a relatively selective paper acceptance rate of 42.8% at the 2008 AEJMC convention in Chicago. By comparison, only one of the seven other interest groups had a lower acceptance rate (Science Communication’s was 40.7%), and our rate was lower than all but one of the divisions (the International division’s rate was 42.7%).
* Adopting The Journal of Media and Religion as our interest group’s journal. Most interest groups (and some divisions) do not yet sponsor a journal.
* Produced some solid panels at the AEJMC conventions, including tributes to James Carey and Neil Postman.

AEJMC sponsors Interest Groups under the assumption that the group is pretty much temporary; the groups can request renewal, but they are encouraged to either disband or move toward divisional status after a period of time. As a division we would benefit from more programming chips for the AEJMC convention, which translates into more panels and opportunities to present and discuss research in religion and media.

But before we make that step, we have to acknowledge that the application for divisional status can be an arduous process, and if the membership decides as an interest group to apply as a division we want to do whatever we can to ensure the process is smooth and successful. As such, Dan Stout has volunteered to lead a group charged with exploring our readiness to apply. We have planned to review the report as a group at the RMIG business meeting during the 2009 AEJMC conference, so I hope you’ll make plans to be there.

Another of our “Looking Forward” efforts is represented by this website. With so much information about religion and media available on the web, Quint Randle and Debra Mason have put together a nice site for RMIG’s virtual home. This site has some great features, including:

* A consistently-updated news feed regarding religion and media issues.
* A discussion board to exchange thoughts and ideas about goings-on in religion and media.

There are a couple more things to “Look Forward” to this year. First, we are exploring how we can bring back membership access to The Journal of Media and Religion.

Second, RMIG will participate in the AEJMC Mid-Winter conference on March 6-8, 2009 at the University of Oklahoma Gaylord College of Journalism and Mass Communication. We had a nice turnout at last year’s conference at Point Park University in Pittsburgh, despite the inclement weather. Contact Amanda Sturgill at Amanda_Sturgill@baylor.edu for more information about the Mid-Winter conference. (See more details below as well.)

Finally, I am “Looking Forward” to hearing from you at jtrammell@highpoint.edu with any questions or ideas you have for RMIG. Have a great rest of the semester.

________________________________________________________________________________

Teaching Chair
“How Much Do We Reveal”

by Anthony Hatcher, Elon University
RMIG Teaching Chair

“Could I ask you a personal question? You don’t have to answer if you don’t want to.” When a student poses a query like that, I tend to steel myself. Who knows what’s coming next? “Are you Catholic?” she asked.

The question was an odd one, considering this was a Media & Politics Senior Seminar, and not my Religion and Media class. I told her, without hesitation, that I had been raised Southern Baptist, which seemed to surprise her. “Professors have a reputation of leaning to the left,” she said. I guess my Baptist background didn’t fit that stereotype.

She told me she was curious about my religion because I had spoken about the religious backgrounds of the various presidential and vice-presidential candidates. We had just finished a discussion of Senators Joe Biden and John Kerry, both devout Catholics.

“May I ask you a personal question?” She said yes, so I asked her if I appeared to be a partisan in classroom lectures and discussions, or as a result of the materials I had chosen for them to read. She paused, and then said she thought I was a bit liberal, but I wasn’t overt about it.

She told me her father was Catholic and very conservative, and that her own political views had moved from right to moderate over the course of her college career. Research has shown this to be a trend among college students. Many leave the religion of their youth, or stop attending services altogether.

When I teach Religion and Media each spring, I tell the students up front that I am presenting culture through a religious filter, but there will be no proselytizing on my part. I strain sometimes not to mock an outrageous televangelist, and I avoid all negative commentary on the religious beliefs of anyone outside of my own tradition.

In class evaluations, I have received comments such as, “Professor Hatcher is a great teacher, even though he’s conservative.” I have also received the same compliment on my greatness, accompanied by, “even though he’s so liberal.” I comfort myself with the old journalism adage that if you’re ticking off both sides, you must be doing something right.

So, how much should we reveal of ourselves in class? I have colleagues who won’t tell students anything about their beliefs. Others reveal biases on the final day of class. In my case, full disclosure seems to work best. I tell students I was raised in a moderate Southern Baptist Church, was married in a Presbyterian Church, and now attend services most Sundays at Duke University Chapel, where I hear a variety of viewpoints and intellectual sermons.

Usually, this frankness disarms any students with an extreme viewpoint on the right or the left, and we can get on with our mutually respectful discussions. Classes differ in their personalities and demographics, but when it comes to the twin touchstones of religion and politics, honesty seems to be the best policy.

________________________________________________________________________________

Paper Call
Mid-Winter Meeting

March 6-8, 2009; Gaylord College of Journalism and Mass Communication, University of Oklahoma
(Conference web page: http://www.ou.edu/gaylord)

The AEJMC Midwinter Conference is an annual forum for the presentation of research in areas relevant to the 12 AEJMC divisions, interest groups and commissions sponsoring the conference. The conference follows a rather informal structure that allows for presentations and extended discussions in a relaxed setting. This year, 12 AEJMC divisions, interest groups and commissions are participating in the conference, scheduled for March 6-8 at the Gaylord College of Journalism and Mass Communication (University of Oklahoma) in Norman, Oklahoma. The location offers participants many winter diversions outside the conference activities, including world-class museums and art galleries.

Questions about paper proposal submissions to specific divisions, interest groups and commissions can be directed to the appropriate contacts below. General questions about the conference can be sent to Elanie Steyn, Conference Site Host (Elanie@ou.edu) and Homero Gil de Zuniga, Communication Technology Division Midwinter Chair (hgz@mail.utexas.edu).

Paper submissions: Authors should submit research paper proposals consisting of a 300- to 500-word abstract to the relevant division/interest group/commission contact person. Do not submit full papers. The abstracts should give a clear sense of the scope of the research and the method of inquiry used. Conclusions should be highlighted for works that have been completed by the submission deadline. Do not send full research papers for consideration. However, authors of proposals accepted for presentation at the conference must submit complete research papers, not exceeding 30 pages, to their discussant two weeks prior to the conference. PAPERS PRESENTED AT THIS CONFERENCE ALSO ARE ELIGIBLE FOR PRESENTATION AT THE NATIONAL AEJMC CONVENTION. Accepted authors are encouraged to use feedback from reviewers at this conference as they improve and finalize works in progress for submission to the national conference.

Panel submissions: Panel organizers should submit proposals to the relevant division/interest group/commission contact person indicating the panel title, a description of the session’s focus, the issues to be discussed, and a list of panelists (potential and confirmed), including affiliation.

Format: Identify the paper’s author(s) or panel’s organizer(s) on the title page only and include the mailing address, telephone number and e-mail address of the person to whom inquiries should be addressed. The title should be on the first page of the text and on running heads on each page of text. Include your abstract or proposal as an attachment in a standard word-processing format (preferably Word or RTF). Also, please ensure that you remove any identifying information from your document (with the exception of the title page).

Deadline: All abstracts and panel proposals must be e-mailed to the appropriate division/interest group/commission’s midwinter paper chair (see below) by December 13, 2008. Please include an e-mail address so that the midwinter paper chairs can notify you by January 10, 2009. Registration: Details on conference registration, hotel accommodation, and travel information will be available at http://www.ou.edu/gaylord.

For religion and media papers, contact:
Religion and Media Interest Group
Amanda Sturgill, Baylor University (Amanda_SturgillATbaylor.edu )
254-710-6322

________________________________________________________________________________

Member Notes & News


Students in China

Several students from Dr. Myna German’s (PF&R Chair) Mass Communications Department at Delaware State University worked at the Summer Olympics in Beijing, in conjunction with an exchange program.(Left to right: Taj Shareef, Brittany Griffin, Diamond Bevel) They had a chance to observe the loosening of restrictions on Internet usage as the games approached, with the Chinese Government relaxing the rules to allow reporters to access CNN or BBC online. This was seen as progress toward a more open system. However, they were unsure if this flavor would continue after the Olympics, or was more a “showcasing” or movement toward a more democratic government. They cited economic reasons as creating pressure toward a more open political system.

Still, when the students arrived for their language course in February, they were not supposed to be filming in public places like the main government square. The students were told not to discuss religion in Internet mailings by those preparing them for the trip, since it was believed that a “filter” could intercept their email and destroy their privacy once that flag was raised. You may find this NY Times article interesting for additional reading. — Myna German


MA in Theology at University of Santo Tomas

The University of Santo Tomas, the oldest university in Asia founded in 1611, is offering an MA in Theology. In the Graduate School, we have MATh program speciliazing in Pastoral Communication which comprises basic human communication as well as modern communication. Here is a list of the courses being offered.

In addition to this program, we are also linked to the Pontifical Theological Faculty of the same university where students of pastoral communication can also earn a Licentiate in Pastoral Theology (specializing in Pastoral Communication) together with the MATh with one thesis. The basis for this program is my book “Communicating in Ministry and Mission” which is published in the Philippines in a second edition, a third edition coming next year. It was also published in India, translated into Italian, Indonesian and is under translation in other Asian languages. — Franz-Josef Eilers, svd

Newsletter news and items can be sent to quint_randle@byu.edu.

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